Financial Aid & Scholarship


Applying for financial aid is a separate and vital part of the college application process.  Your family may need assistance meeting the annual cost of tuition, books, fees, room, and board.  The following steps will help you organize the financial aid application process:

  • Look at scholarship information in the Career Center, use the Scholarship Resources on Naviance Student and run a scholarship search on the Internet either in the Career Center or at home.

  • Continue to investigate scholarship opportunities throughout your senior year.  

  • Find out what forms your colleges require and what the deadlines are. This information is available in the Career Center, on college web sites, or directly from the college financial aid office.

  • Attend a financial aid workshop for an explanation of the financial aid process and for directions on filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

  • Complete and return the CSS Profile application in the fall of senior year if applying to colleges that require it.

  • Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible and check your schools' priority filing dates. The FAFSA is available October 1.  Filing FAFSA on the web is the preferred method of filing, as it will give you access to the IRS's Data Retrieval Tool. In order to sign the FAFSA, both the student and at least one custodial parent will need to request FSA ID numbers (these should be linked to separate email accounts; ones you check frequently).

  • Review the Student Aid Report (SAR) which will arrive several weeks after you file the FAFSA.  Check the SAR very carefully and make necessary corrections.

  • Carefully compare financial award letters when they arrive in the spring.  Once you have decided which college to attend, notify the financial aid office of your decision to accept all, part, or none of the financial award.


Every college has a Net Price Calculator on their website. These are helpful to see what time of aid and even scholarships you may be awarded at that specific school. Some schools will also have a myIntuition calculator to help determine access to federal as well as institutional aid. Additionally, you can check out the FAFSA Forecaster on the FAFSA Website to determine your family's expected contribution (EFC)


  • What percentage of your demonstrated need will be met?

  • Whether the composition of the financial aid package changes from year to year, i.e. does the loan component increase significantly.

  • What tuition payment plans are available.

  • What the college's loan default rate is; affects a number of federal funds the colleges will have available.


The mission of College Access Fairfax is simple and straightforward - they help students and parents understand the process of student financial aid for post-secondary education.  This includes defining financial aid terms, explaining important deadlines, and assisting in completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - the gateway for all federal student aid, most institutional aid, and many independent scholarships - and the CSS Profile (an additional financial disclosure form required by some colleges/universities).  For more information about College Access programs hosted throughout the county, visit



Scholarships are awarded to students based on their academic record, leadership ability, talents or need for financial assistance.  Since many scholarships are awarded by colleges, students should apply to the colleges directly for information and applications. Other sources of scholarship aid are your parents' employers, labor unions, civic and religious organizations, professional associations, and other private groups.  Renewable scholarships will have continuing eligibility requirements, such as maintaining a certain level of academic or athletic performance or showing evidence of continuing financial need.


The following websites provide financial aid resources and information on grants and scholarships.  Set up an account and you will be provided with targeted scholarships based on skills, activities, and interests listed in your profile:

The following websites have browsing features, as well as profile-specific listings:

  • Chegg
  • GoodCall-includes competition level and level of difficulty.
  • College XPress  
  • College Greenlight
  • GuaranteedScholarships - These scholarships are listed by the school (mostly out-of-state, private colleges) and are unlimited in number.  They require no interview, essay, portfolio, audition, competition or other "secondary" requirement. Just meet the criteria listed, adhere to the application deadlines set by the individual school, gain admission, enroll, and receive your scholarship(s).

More Search Engines for Scholarships:

There are many scholarship search engines, but be careful. NEVER give payment information or your social security number. Be cautious with giving out any contact information and read through privacy policies before creating profiles. Also, make sure to keep all login information in a secure place so you don't forget!


Students should also research scholarship opportunities at each college to which they will apply. Some colleges will automatically review you for merit-aid with your application, some will require separate applications for scholarships. Some colleges may even require a nomination for scholarships. Talk to your school counselor and the college & career center specialist as soon as possible if you are interested in a school-specific nominated scholarship- these will have specific application procedures that are specific to Oakton.

Be aware that some colleges are able to give more merit aid than others, while others may focus more on providing financial aid (to those with low expected family contributions). You can learn a lot about a school’s philosophy and protocol on their website, as well as in college visits.


The Academic Common Market (ACM) is a tuition-savings program that is administered by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and 16 member states. The arrangement allows students to pay in-state tuition rates at out-of-state public institutions while studying in select programs not available in their home state. The following states are partners - Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. States and institutions have the discretion to remove or restrict its participation and access to degree programs at any time.  For more information visit:



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